“You OK, buddy?”
It’s a sunny afternoon in Vancouver, and two thirds of We Are the City are relaxing on their back porch, munching on Fudgsicles and an array of fruit. Vocalist and keyboardist Cayne McKenzie breaks an orange open with a thumb and squirts a very generous amount of juice at his face.
“Ah. That got me right in the eyehole,” McKenzie mutters, squinting. Drummer Andrew Huculiak is sitting across him with a grin on his face. Quickly, a recovery ensues.
The pair begin talking about their latest release Violent, which hits shelves on June 4. While being simultaneously beautiful and intense, the album largely departs from more upbeat sounds featured on High School and experiments with darker lyrics, heavier religious undertones, and an almost-sinister vibe that’ll awaken the pit in your stomach.
“We’ve really created our own universe and our own story with Violent,” says McKenzie. “All of the lyrics discuss the idea of dark and light, or above and below the water. It’s a conversation about null or the in-between, and where to go from there.”
After witnessing guitarist David Menzel’s wife become baptized, McKenzie was quick to sit down and pen Violent’s first single “Baptism”. The song provides a promising taste of the album: the vocals are sombre and soothing, the tempo erratic, and the end thunderous in all of its God Is an Astronaut-esque post-rock glory.
When discussing the video for “Baptism”, the musicians delve into the process that creates molten steel wool in a whisk – and how scary it is flinging it at each other’s faces. “It was a little bit painful. I actually burnt my leg, but not bad enough to be a real burn. David [our guitarist] had his hair catch fire, too. It was pretty wild. Some true men would not be afraid of doing this, but we were,” Huculiak chuckles.
To accompany the album, the band released a 12-part online video series “Magic House”, which captured poignant moments in creating Violent, ranging from taping demos to dumpster diving on Commercial Drive for blackened bananas and stale bread (sounds tasty, yes?) and funky dancing on couches and table tops. The final clip shows a white-boarded home in South Surrey being demolished – a sad moment for the band.
“The owner had two houses side by side, and after he had bought a third one, they were all torn down to make room for condos,” says Huculiak. “It was a beautiful little house. We spent a lot of time there waiting for ideas to come to us and also a lot of time or having those ideas already and recording them. The video series is maybe a bit of non-fiction and fiction mixed up. Is it real? Is not real? Is it one house, or multiple houses?”
House destruction aside, We Are the City still have a heavy plate to balance: besides doing a cross Canada tour, the band hopes to release a movie they’ve written exclusively in Norwegian – it’s all the more impressive that they don’t know the language – and compose the music for it.
“The movie is a huge dream for us. We just want to experience what it’s like to show a film that we wrote,” says McKenzie. “It goes hand in hand with Violent, but they aren’t part of the same —”
“— its like they’re talking through a telephone can,” Huculiak finishes. “I’d like to see what happens with Violent, too. It really feels like it clicked, and we’re all very excited about it – maybe not in the same ways, but definitely equally as excited.”
We Are the City releases Violent on June 4. They play at the Vogue Theatre on July 4.
By Kristina CharaniaBC, British Columbia